FOR many years, what is now St Sampson's Square was known as Thursday Market. There was a good reason for that. It served as the home of one of York's two main city centre markets, along with Pavement.

There was no Parliament Street in those days, so the two markets were separate.

By the early 1800s, however, they were unable to cater for all the traders wanting to bring their goods into the city centre.

In 1827, in an attempt to resolve the problem, the York Corporation sought an Act of Parliament to enable “the linking of Pavement and Thursday Market by a broad, new street, and the extensive demolition of old property.”

The Act of Parliament was granted in 1833, old buildings were demolished and the new street opened in 1834. It was known as Parliament Street because of the Act of Parliament that had been required to build it.

The market continued to be held in Parliament Street right up until 1964, when Newgate (now Shambles) Market opened. And it continued to spill over into St Sampson's Square, as can be seen from photograph no 1 today.

This is a wonderful view, presumably taken from the roof of a building on the opposite side of upper Parliament Street, showing the Minster rising majestically behind with St Sampson's Square in the foreground - complete with several rows of market stalls.

This photograph, along with the others on this page, comes from the collection of the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society (YAYAS).

There are two other photographs of St Sampson's Square, showing the corner now occupied by Browns, plus a selection of other York scenes. The photographs show:

2. The corner of St Sampson's Square in about 1890. It looks reasonably prosperous, with the buildings now occupied by Browns being used by A Dawson's hair cutting, and D Lofthouse's fruit and potato warehouse

3. The same corner of St Sampson's Square a decade or so later, in about 1900, but this time looking distinctly run down. The entrance to Davygate even appears to be boarded off. The building on the corner still carries a prominent advert for pianos and organs, but the shop below looks as if it may well be shut

4. Blake Street in about 1910 - an obviously elegant and prosperous street

5. The Fulford-bound tram passing under the huge archway constructed in the city walls at Station Road. From the clothes of those looking on, this must have been taken in the early years of York's electric trams - ie the early 1910s

6. A tranquil scene on the River Ouse, date uncertain. Skeldergate Bridge can be seen in the distance; St George's Field is to the right.

Stephen Lewis

The Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society (YAYAS) has been promoting and protecting the history, heritage and architecture of York and Yorkshire since 1842. You can find out more about the organisation by visiting